Moving beyond brochures only – new ways of working for the Enquiry Centres, India

The Enquiry Centres that work in different cities in India advertise in newspapers and handbills, offering free information brochures on Christ and Christianity. Whoever enquires is sent a booklet by post and can, upon completion of a small questionnaire, enrol for different Bible correspondence courses. The National Association of Enquiry Centres has more than 50 members.

After following this approach for many years, the Enquiry Centres felt a bit uneasy that certain changes might be necessary to keep the work successful. Moreover, it became increasingly difficult to convince the donor agencies to sponsor the printing costs of booklets and course materials for individual centres without having a strategic concept for the overall work and better co-ordination among the different centres. This would include a perspective for reaching new target groups and updating the existing materials.

On behalf of a donor organisation, CAMECO, therefore recently contacted the Association of Enquiry Centres and visited several centres in different parts of India. It was agreed that a strategic planning process should be started, prepared jointly by CAMECO and a small group of selected representatives of the centres who will have the full ownership of the process. The next General Body Meeting of the Association of Enquiry Centres will be used to have a special one-day workshop, reflecting in depth about the present situation of the Enquiry Centres, their strengths and weaknesses, and their challenges for the future, including opportunities and threats. Issues that could be taken up in the strategic planning process are, among others, adding modern communication channels for the course students (like e-mail or short message services), the chance to use audio-visual materials, interactive and multi-media websites etc.